The new Dimension 4100 line is intended to serve the direct sales company's midrange home PC users but also narrows the gap between Dell and its competitors in the consumer PC market, including Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer.
The Dimension 4100 series will feature Intel Pentium III processors running at speeds of 933 MHz and a new Intel chipset that supports higher-speed graphics and memory processing.
A typical configuration of the build-to-order system would include a 733-MHz processor, 128MB of memory, a 10GB hard drive, a 48X CD-ROM drive and a 17-inch monitor, priced at $1,299. Compaq and HP offer similarly priced and configured systems.
"The sweet spot for consumers generally is around the $1,300 range," said PC Data analyst Stephen Baker.
The new PCs will hit the market just as Dell pulls the plug on its experiment with its WebPC, the company's foray into the world of Internet appliances. The WebPC, with its colorful plastic case and simplified design, was one of many attempts by PC makers to cash in on the Web appliance craze, which has included Web tablets, wireless handheld computers and TV set-top boxes.
As many of these devices from traditional PC makers have fizzled, the staid PC may be making a comeback. This year, despite the hoopla surrounding such Internet devices, PC sales have steadily risen, and the dramatic discounts on desktop computers seen in previous years have generally stabilized, analysts say.
"The new Dimension 4100 PCs offer customers many of the performance features and benefits of high-end systems that typically cost hundreds of dollars more," Ron Van Dell, general manager of the Dimension group at Dell, said in a statement.